So you’ve been playing piano for a while now, and you feel like it’s time to upgrade the home set up. After all, you’ve stuck with it and you probably feel like you’re an advanced player at this point.
But what are your options, especially if you’re on the hunt for the best digital piano for advanced pianists?
Well, you might feel like in order to really take your playing to the next level, you’re going to need an acoustic piano. Something by Steinway, for example.
Well, you could spend twenty thousand dollars on an acoustic piano. Or you could look into something more along the lines of a pro digital piano.
A pro digital piano is a keyboard that replicates the sounds and feeling of a real piano, but at a fraction of the cost. In fact a lot of professional recording artists and musicians use these kinds of pianos because they’re so well-made, that buying anything else just doesn’t make sense anymore.
In my experience, I feel like advanced players need something realistic, high-quality, and an instrument that’s going to last a lifetime. Digital pianos, because they model the sound of a real piano, don’t really go out of style, especially if you have a new one.
Therefore, in this article, I’m going to recommend five digital pianos that I think would be great fits for anyone that considers themselves to be an advanced piano player, or a professional player.
And to help you out even further in this article, please take a look at the interactive table below which lists some of the digital pianos we will be discussing in today’s article.
|Yamaha YDP-143||88||83 lbs.||$$$||★★★★|
|Yamaha P255||88||38 lbs.||$$$||★★★★|
|Kurzweil MP15||88||104 lbs.||$$$||★★★|
|Yamaha YDP-S52||88||82 lbs.||$$$||★★★★|
|Yamaha YDP-V240||88||108 lbs.||$$$||★★★★|
|Nord Piano 3||88||40.3 lbs||$$$||★★★★★|
|Nord Stage 2 EX||88||40.7 lbs.||$$$||★★★★|
In general, here are some things you want to be looking for when shopping for a digital piano that’s suitable for an advanced player:
- 88 keys
- Fully Weighted
- Durable (if it’s portable)
- Sturdy Weight (if upright and not portable)
- Inputs for Pedals
- Solid polyphony for complex playing
Without further ado, let’s begin with the Yamaha Arius YDP-143:
Yamaha YDP-143 ($1100)
If you want the aesthetic of an upright grand, but can’t afford one, this might be the perfect option for you. It’s a full 88 keys, beautifully encased in a wooden stand that’s meant for home or even studio permanence. The encasing slides down to protect the keys and panel when not in use.
This is not a digital piano meant to move around a lot, but it’s still lighter than a lot of grand pianos, at 83 pounds. It’s got a 192 note polyphony, which means you can handle big songs in which you’re playing everything rapidly with the use of the sustain, and no notes will drop out. There are ten sounds to choose from, ranging from big and bright grands, moody electric pianos, organs, and more.
It’s got Yamaha’s Pure CF sound engine, and the weighted keys help this digital piano come to life. The speakers are loud and full-sounding, although maybe not quite as rich as the Yamaha P-255, whose stage-designed speakers are a little more powerful.
So, what makes this digital piano stand out to me? It comes with three pedals, just like a real piano. As you know, sustain is imperative, but the damper and half damper pedals really add extra expression. For this price, this is an amazing digital piano, and it looks great in every home.
- If you’re interested in the Yamaha Arius line, you can read our review of the Yamaha YDP-163 here.
Before moving on, please take a moment to view some of the best-selling digital pianos currently on sale at Amazon:
Kurzweil MP15 ($1600)
This 88 key digital piano is also encased in beautiful black wood that’s glossy and great to look at, and also has a nice looking panel on the front. However, this digital piano has over 100 voices, ranging from other instruments not featured on the Yamaha, such as guitars, synths, and drums.
There are a few other features, as well. For instance, you can plug your phone into it in order to play along to music. I like the recording function, which is super useful for playback to listen to how you’re playing. You can always hear the mistakes after you’re done playing.
You can play along to tracks and rhythms as well, to practice jamming with other musicians, which will be useful if you ever want to start performing. However, this digital piano is not practical for performance. It weighs 125 pounds and the encasing isn’t something I’d ever feel comfortable taking onto a stage. It also doesn’t really have a practical line output for a direct box or even speakers. But for practicing, the speakers do sound amazing, and the keys make for a pretty realistic experience.
Now, this digital piano has a 64 note polyphony. This is not quite as extensive as the Yamaha’s, but it’s still a lot. Anything lower than this will be impractical for advanced players, and while I’d personally prefer a higher polyphony, it’s not that noticeable when you play it. The sounds are great and there are plenty of them, so this makes this a gorgeous and fun digital piano to have.
Yamaha P-255 ($1300)
Now, as an advanced player, you might be starting to get a few gigs every once in a while. Maybe you’re playing in a band, or any of the other performance opportunities available to piano players like you. One benefit to getting a digital piano that doubles as a stage piano is not only that it’s going to be much cheaper than a real grand piano, it serves two purposes.
You might not be the type that’s interested in playing in front of other people. That’s fine. In that case, maybe you’d like something that looks more like a home piano. The great thing about the P-255 is that you can also purchase an encasement for it so that it will look like a real piano, as well.
However, if you want to have ease of access for packing it up and moving it to a gig, you’ll probably want just a regular piano stand that is strong enough to hold a full-sized 88 key digital piano. This one is much lighter than the previous two I’ve mentioned, at only 38 pounds. You can lift if yourself and it can fit into a carrying case.
One of the reasons I think this digital piano plays better than the YDP-143 is that it has a max polyphony of 256 notes. This means you could play every single key on the keyboard twice while holding the sustain pedal, and no notes would drop out.
The grand piano sound, however, is almost identical to the YDP-143, which does sound great. The difference is the dynamic key weights, in which the lighter keys actually are easier to press, just like on a real piano. It comes with 24 voices, which is more variety, and they all sound really nice to me.
In addition to the standard pro Yamaha digital piano features, this one comes with an EQ, with three bands, low, mid, and high. This is really useful for live playing. If you need to roll off some low end because of the bass, you can do it. I love this feature.
The speakers are also pretty loud, which is great for practicing, but you can plug in stereo outputs if you want to play live.
- You can read our review of the Yamaha P-255 here.
Nord Piano 3 ($3000)
Suppose your budget is a little higher, but you still can’t spend more than you would on a car to acquire an acoustic piano. In this instance, I’d love to introduce two pro digital pianos that are universally acknowledged as some of the best in the world, and they’re absolutely worth the price.
The first is the Nord Piano 3, a digital piano that’s perfect for home practice and stage performance.
Let’s talk sounds. There are 6 ultra high quality pianos, which you can actually shape any way you want, for unlimited tone variations. You can split and layer any sounds as well, making performing much more dynamic. You can fine tune the sounds on this digital piano much more than you can on the P-255. You can alter things like string resonance, so you can introduce new frequencies into your tone, and so much more.
There’s also a wonderful sampled synth section, with filter and envelopes to emulate a real synthesizer. By the way, Nord synths sounds great as well, and if you like electronic music, you’ll love them.
There’s also a full panel of effects to play with. This can be a great way to get more comfortable with sound design, whether for fun or for performing live.
There are two outputs, plus a headphone output, options for MIDI USB and five pin MIDI, and options for two types of pedals, including expression and sustain. Check out this great press release from early last year to learn more about the specs.
Visually, like its sibling the Nord Stage 2 EX, it’s gorgeous Nord red, with a black underbelly. It weighs about 40 pounds, so it’s easy enough to move. However, Nord’s don’t have speakers on them. You’ll need to get an amp to hear it out loud. This is one side effect of getting a pro keyboard. A lot of them don’t come with speakers because they figure you’ve already got an amp, studio monitors, or a PA system to connect it to for practice and recording.
I love the Nord Piano 3 because of the way the keys feel. They have the hand-crafted aesthetic that just makes it feel like something special. Try one out and you’ll see what I mean. Nord doesn’t do anything halfway, and the keys are no exception.
Nord Stage 2 EX ($4500)
The Nord Stage 2 EX is a high cost, high quality professional digital piano, Hammond B3 Organ modeler, and synthesizer all rolled into one. There are not only amazing grand and upright pianos, in which all aspects of the tone can be manually adjusted to perfection, but there is also a series of electric pianos that model things like the Rhodes, Wurlitzer, and Clavinet for the ultimate electric piano sound design options.
Each section is divided into panels, so for instance, the organ section has actual drawbars you can play with to tweak the sounds based on reed options, rotary rates, and much more. The synthesizer section allows you to play with different waveforms like saw and square, as well as shaping the waveforms with envelopes, LFOs, filters, and effects like reverb, delay, and more.
The keys are very similar to the Nord Piano 3’s. it uses the same hammer action for the EX version, and then there’s also two other versions where you can have slightly lighter hammer action keys, and then semi-weighted waterfall keys, which feel more like playing an organ with just enough resistance.
Nord’s have some of the best keybeds in the world and I think a lot of people prefer them over the more standard-feeling Yamaha ones. Although in my opinion, the P-255’s keys feel pretty good in comparison. The only difference is that the P-255 is limited in a lot of ways in terms of sound options and onboard hardware options.
So, when would you need a digital piano that costs this much? That’s a good question, because if you’re a better piano player now, you might feel like spending over $4000 on a digital piano is still too much. That’s fair and I respect that, and I agree that it depends on what you’re doing.
Ultimately, I think if you’re on your way to becoming a professional musician who will get paid to play music, you can easily justify investing in a keyboard of this caliber.
This is a great digital piano for stage and home use, and it’s one of the best out there, if not the best. That’s also why it’s at its price point, and if you can afford it, as well as the purchase of an amplifier for practice, you’ll be buying a digital piano that will last you for years of great usage.
I personally think it’s the best digital piano with weighted keys out there. In fact, this digital piano is so great, there’s an entire forum post talking about how everyone who’s had it for years already still finds it inspiring.
If the price of a Nord is just too much, but you would still like something you can use to perform with, that will still have a great piano sound and feel, the Yamaha P-255 is definitely an option, and while it has fewer features, it’s still a great investment.
I play piano a lot, I teach piano, and I produce and record music. Piano is my passion, and if I had the budget, I’d own a Stage 2 EX. If you are debating whether to spend a lot more money on a real grand piano or get something for a quarter of the price, your best option is the Nord Stage 2 EX.
That’s my first choice. But, if your budget is under $2000, the P-255 is an excellent option, because you can perform or play at home, and you can buy a separate home stand if you want it to feel more like an upright. While it’s not quite as powerful as the Stage 2 EX, it’s a wonderful option for advanced players, and will keep you satisfied for a very long time.
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